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This blog exists only as an archive. It is a journal that serves as a window into my life as a Marine combat veteran serving in Iraq and Afghanistan; it was written with no filter, no politics and no agenda. Please feel free to follow my journey from beginning to end. Welcome to my life.

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

I just got done standing 6 hours of post. Standing post is like watching paint dry, except today, that paint exploded in the form of two mortar rounds that landed right outside the post next to mine. This began a long series of thoughts, beginning with- these people are firing mortars at us, but half of them are landing on a busy street that is teeming with traffic carrying their own countrymen. Do these people have any morals?

My thoughts then drifted to a friend of mine from SOI. His name was De La Torre. This morning I found out that he was one of the wounded Marines that was medevaced yesterday. De la Torre died in surgery. This one hit me hard. I think it was because of De la Torre's personality. It was impossible for this guy to make an enemy. He was 28, had a degree and had been floundering in cubicle America for years. He was also one of the most socially naieve people I knew. The first time I met him I was looking for someone to go into Oceanside with me on a day off from Infantry school on a Saturday. He was of drinking age so he said he'd tag along.

We got into town, walked around for a while, got some food and went down to the beach. It was the first time he had seen the ocean, any ocean. 28 years old and he had never been out of the midwest. We went to a local bar and ordered a few beers. I noticed a couple of beers in that he was starting to slur his words. Turns out he had never drank before. 28 and I was now his first for two significant life moments. A couple more beers in and he begins a conversation with a lady next to him. The kind of lady that hangs out at Marine bars and hopes to find marriage and a paycheck every two weeks. De la Torre fell in love. I dragged him out of that bear trap, but I couldn't escape his conversations about Mandy for the rest of SOI. He fell hard. "I know, I know...it's just...we connected. I know it was only a few minutes, but I felt like she really liked me. I wish I could see her just one more time."

De la Torre was the guy who every time you saw him in Iraq and asked him how he was doing, expecting a "fine, how are you", would instead give you a "You know...I'm good...really good. In fact, I truly feel like I am finding myself over here. I mean...it's hard, and I miss back home....but I know I'm doing good. The sunsets here really put me at peace..."

De la Torre was driving down a road in Iraq. He was holding onto a laptop computer that held all the intel he was in charge of gathering. De la Torre died on an operating table.

So I'm on post, asking myself, "Who are these people? What kind of monster looks at people that leave their families thousands of miles away, to come to a foreign land and help, and says, 'I am going to take 120 lbs of explosives and bury it in the road so that I can take from them what they are trying to give me'?"

What kind of human launches mortars at a base, knowing that if they miss they could cause casualties to their fellow Iraqis, and not only that, but launches them from the cover of a village full of women and children.

Who does this in the name of religion?

But then I come off post. I get on the internet. Yahoo pops up. Va Tech Massacre. Where is our moral superiority? Sometimes we get lost in our own ethnocentricity and lose sight of the fact that we have no shortage of morally void citizens. I can't help but lose faith in mankind.


  1. Jake, been following your blog for a couple months. This one was tough to read. You don't know me from Adam, but I'm a fellow Badger fan who keeps a positive thought for you and your compatriots every day. Keep the faith.

  2. So true Jacob. What makes us (Americans) better than anyone else? Nothing. We are all the same. I came to this realization not long ago myself.

    I haven't lost faith in mankind, I've lost faith in America's desire to change mankind.

  3. Jake ,I thank God we have young men like you that realize what something has gone wrong.You are this country's and the world's future.You are destined to do great things!

  4. Fellow badger here and friend of Victor Meckstroth. We were out at Wandos eating bacon and drinking dollar beers last night when Vic mentioned your blog page. I just wanted to post on here to let you know how grateful i am for what you and your boys are doin to keep the world safe. Keep the faith and when you get back you can join me and Vic for one of those tasty cans of PBR.

  5. Jake - Hang in there, Jake. We pray for you every day. Clarice ends every prayer, at mealtime and bedtime, with "God, please bring my uncle Jake home safe." That says it all.

  6. Jake, it's a blessing to someone like myself who can't seem to imagine life in your shoes at this time... or anyone else over there. Thank you for including us in this chapter and please get home safely. Much love!

  7. Great Grandma Wood had a plaque that hung in her bedroom for over 40 years. It read...Never give up, God is faithful. Remember that Jake, God be with you.

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  9. Hey Jake.

    I asked myself those same questions nearly forty years ago.

    There are no answers that make any sense because normal people can't imagine the evil and the ignorance in some peoples hearts and minds.

    The radicals of any group feed on their ability to generate terror and to kill and maim and the publicity that they get.

    The Islamic radicals have shown themselves to be monsters and they have the twisted writings of the Koran to sustain and fire them to even worse acts of murder.

    Be aware, that many if not most of those trying to kill you and your buds (and the Iraqis) are not from Iraq, but from Iran, Syria, Jordon, Saudi Arabia and the Sudan.

    They are well trained, well financed and are determined to win, both there where you are and here in America.

    They are winning here, the American public has been decieved, the congress has been swayed to their side and the administration unable to take a step without making a mistake.

    Focus on your Mission, rally your buds, keep on keeping on.

    For your friends gone and your friends there and your friends yet to be.

    Papa Ray
    West Texas

  10. Jake, i liked this post. as usual, though, i have a lot of questions.

    what makes you think the people laying bombs by the road do it for religion? just because they say they are? or the US media says they are?

    let me give you another example: northern ireland. do you think the catholics of the IRA and the protestant terrorists killed each other (and civilians too) because of religion? do you think they had some theological differences about the book of john, and said, hell, i am gonna kill this SOB? no, i don't think so.

    Jake, it is about politics. nothing more and nothing less. people often use religious symbols to attain political ends. doesn't this happen in the US? look at sri lanka: suicide bombings, killings. is it religion causing it? no. it is political and ethnic conflict being expressed often in religious terms. look at the yugoslav war. religion? again, no. look at israel/palestine: religion? not at all. it is about one group of people taking land from another group and refusing to give it back.

    finally, the US is not pure. did america "care" about the hundreds of thousands of iraqi children who died in the 1990s because of the UN embargo? no. saddam was part of this problem. but so was the US. the US refused to allow chlorine imports because it is "dual use." it is necessary to purify water. we, the "moral" country, had bombed their water purification plants in the earlier war. some military target, huh? just because we kill from a distance, are we more moral? a terrorist kills 20 or 30, or even 100. but what of policies that kill hundreds of thousands?

    why do americans think that using force is a form of caring? why do these same people who lionize soldiers not lionize citizen activists who care for the suffering in countries without oil? why do americans not care that our country is the biggest arms dealer in the world? why do americans not demand to know who is killed with those weapons?

    see "lord of war" with nicholas cage on this subject. based on a true story.

    its the big picture, man.
    papa ray you are wrong. the more you and people like you spread fear, based on ignorance, the more our nation is in danger -- not from al-qaeda but from anti-democratic tendencies within.

    you care about "security" but not about liberty or democracy. people like you would support a fascist "reinterpretation" of the constitution. people like you would support putting people like myself -- who refuse to give up liberty for some cowardly "security" -- in camps. may it never happen.

    democracy forever.